Saturday, July 7, 2018

One prominent Baha'i soul flies to Abha Kingdom


Dear Baha'i friends Nadia Moghbelpour's mother passed away peacefully.  Please remember her in your prayers.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tahirih in the Indian subcontinent

 
Knowledge of Tahirih’s life and love for her poetry went east and south to the Indian subcontinent where her memory has been celebrated ever since. The first mention of Tahirih made on the Indian subcontinent was in 1870. A steady stream of Babi and Baha’i teachers came to India to spread the new teachings, including one of the Bab’s Letters of the Living, Shaykh Sa’id-i Hindi, who hailed from the city of Multan, a center of Islamic mystical practice.(1) Sa’id-i-Hindi, who, like Tahirih, had been part of the Shaykhi school and then became a follower of the Bab, was sent to the Indian subcontinent to announce the good news of the advent of the Bab. He reached Multan—in today’s Pakistan—in 1844, where he carried out his mission to his fellow countrymen. One of those who converted to the new faith was Basir-i-Hindi, a blind man of the Multan area who had great spiritual and intellectual qualities.2

Members of the Bab’s family, also, had settled in India. The Bab had worked in his uncle Siyyid Ali’s cloth trade, and business contacts had been made in India. The family business had offices in Shiraz, Bushihr, and Bombay (Mumbai). It was probably in 1870 that, Haji Siyyid Mahmood Afnan and Haji Siyyid Mirza Mahdi Afnan, established in Bombay a business by the name of “Haji Siyyid Mirza Mahmood Afnan & Co.,” and, later, a printing press, the Nasiri Printing Press, to publish the Babi and Baha’i holy writings. These maternal relatives and other followers could spread the new teachings from Bombay to the rest of India and Burma, and it became the first major center of Baha’i activity in the Indian subcontinent.

The first written mention of Tahirih in India came thirty-seven years after her execution, in a compilation of Persian poetry edited by ‘Abdulghafur Nassakh, and published in Calcutta.

The first researcher to write about her from an academic perspective was Prof. M Hidayat Hossein who was the secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society in Cal- cutta.3

In 1902, a Baha’i came to Lahore to spread the Baha’i teachings. In the neighborhood in which he was staying, he met and befriended one of the most influential Indians of the early 20th century, Muhammad Iqbal.4

Iqbal was a much admired poet who wrote in both Urdu and Persian and a philosopher- activist who laid the intellectual ground- work for the formation of a separate Muslim state to be carved out of northwestern India. As a Muslim Indian, he was concerned that the Muslim population of India would be at the mercy of the Hindu majority and so proposed a two-state solution. Educated in England, he was eventually knighted. In death he was memorialized as one of the founders of Pakistan with his birthday becoming a national holiday and many institutions named after him. In 1930, Iqbal met Martha Root twice. In the intervening years since he had first heard of Tahirih, a booklet about her had appeared in Urdu, and, in 1930, a collection of some of her poems was published in Karachi which was then presented to Iqbal at his first meeting with Martha Root.

At their second meeting in June of 1930, Iqbal spoke with reverence to Martha Root and expressed his deep interest in the figure of Tahirih. He said that he was including the Persian mystic in his long poem about the spiritual journey.5

On his journey through the skies, Iqbal meets three important holy figures, one of whom is Tahirih. In the first section of the “Song of Tahira,” he is deeply moved by their spiritual ardor, and it appeals to his own inner longings:

“If ever confronting face to face my glance should alight on you I will describe to you my sorrow for you in the minutest detail That I may behold your cheek, like the zephyr I have visited house by house, door by door, lane by lane, street by street. Through separation from you my heart’s blood is flowing From my eyes river by river, sea by sea, fountain by fountain, stream by stream, My sorrowful heart wove your love into the fabric of my soul thread by thread, thrum by thrum, warp by warp, woof by woof. Tahira repaired to her own heart, and saw none but you page by page, fold by fold, veil by veil, curtain by curtain. The ardour and passion of these anguished loverscast fresh commotions into my soul; ancient problems reared their heads and made assault upon my mind.

The ocean of my thought was wholly agitated; its shore was devastated by the might of the tempest. Rumi said, “Do not lose any time,you who desire the resolution of every knot; for long you have been a prisoner in your own thoughts, now pour this tumult out of your breast!’”6

In another section of “Song of Tahira,” he marvels at how spiritual passion can bring new life into being and break through the old ways. Iqbal was a poet and thinker who was very interested in the relation- ship between sacrifice and progress: “From the sin of a frenzied servant of God new creatures come into being; unbounded passion rends veils apart, removes from the vision the old and the stale,and in the end meets its portion in rope and gallows neither turns back living from the Beloved’s street Behold Love’s glory in city and fields, lest you suppose it has passed away from the world; it lies concealed in the breast of its own time—how could it be contained in such a closet as this?”

Martha Root continued with her journey meeting other known leaders and writers who may have included the Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Rabindranath Tagore. She wrote it seemed that many people could recite verses from Tahirih. On her third trip through India in 1936- 7, she brought with her the short biography of Tahirih which she had written. Using information from her 1930 trip to Iran where she met Tahirih’s family, she was able to begin a short biography, Tahirih, The Pure. In early March, 1938, she stayed at the home of the first Baha’i of Hindu background, and while she looked out over the ocean, she finished this book.Then she had 3,000 copies of 7 it printed in Karachi and mailed many to prominent Indians as well as giving them away to those whom she met. The book was soon being translated into Persian, Czech, Urdu, and Japanese.

In the following decades of the 20th century, there were over one- hundred authors, most working in Urdu, who made mention of Tahirih, translated her poems, included them in compilations, wrote books, short stories and articles about her, and held symposiums in celebration of her life. A number of these were due to her having been one of the subjects of poems and essays by Iqbal. Prof. Jagannath Azad, a prolific writer who wrote over seventy works and who was also an expert in the writings of Iqbal, travelled to the United States from India and wrote a book about his travels, In the land of Columbus, in which he remembered:

“When I reached the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (Baha’i Temple) of Chicago, I was charmed by the atmosphere and freshness of its gardens. My friend Iftekhar Nasim chanted for me the poem of Qurratu’l-Ayn Tahirih “Gar bat u Uftadam Nazar...” and I lose myself in its melody and felt the same 8 Independent of the connection with Iqbal, much was written in the Indian subcontinent about Tahirih’s poetry. She was one of the poets included in the 1905 compilation by Prof. Mohammad Ishaque, published in Calcutta, titled, Four Eminent Poetesses of Iran. Abr Ahsani Ginnauri Badayuni, a Baha’i poet who had a very wide circle of influence among poets wrote a piece on Tahirih for the Baha’i Maga- zine, published in Lahore. A famous poet writing in Urdu, Ra’is Amrahvi, who had founded an institute for self-improvement in Karachi, wrote poems regularly for a daily paper, and one of these was in a style imitating a poem by Tahirih which was re-published in a compilation.9 Over the decades, many other poets imitated her work as well as reprinting and compiling it, so much so that a renowned critic and journalist, Dr. Mohammad Ali Si, asserted in a Karachi newspaper article: “There would seldom be any poet of the Urdu language who would not have said a poem following the style of Tahirih.”10

Tahirih was also the subject of short stories. A story bearing her home name, “Zarrin Taj,” written by Prof. Aziz Ahmad, a much respected writer whose short stories were especially notable, was published in a monthly literary magazine in Lahore. It was given a dramatic reading on Radio Pakistan in Rawalpindi, in 1963.11 Sheikh Manzoor Elahi, another well-respected short story writer produced a piece titled, “Qurratu’l-Ayn,” which appeared in print in Lahore in 1965.12

Book length works about Tahirih also appeared such as a short biography put out by the Baha’is of Lahore in 1974, and Jamilah Hashmi, a novelist who imagined her storied life in his work, Chihra bachihrah rubaru. An English-language, fictionalized rendering of Tahirih’s life by Clara A. Edge was translated into Urdu, published in a monthly journal in its entirety in 1998, and sold to its readership and in bookshops, creating a much greater awareness of her.13

1 Afaqi, “Qurratu’l-‘Ayn Tahirih in Urdu literature,” Tahirih in History, 29.
2 Mazandarani, Zuhur’ul-Haqq, vol. 3, 454.
3 Afaqi, “Qurratu’l-‘Ayn Tahirih in Urdu Literature.” 29.
4 Ibid., 29-30.
5 Ibid., 30-31.
6 Ibid., 47-8.
7 Ibid., 48-9
8 Garis,Martha Root 462-464
9.Ibid,32-34
10.Ibid,38-9
11 Ibid., 37.
12 Ibid., 33.
13 Ibid., 35, 40-1.

Friday, June 29, 2018

एक बीज जो प्रेम के साथ बोया गया उसका पोषण करना है...

विश्व न्याय मन्दिर
सचिवालय विभाग
1 जून 2018
ईमेल द्वारा प्रसारित 

सभी राष्ट्रीय आध्यात्मिक सभाओं को, 

प्रिय बहाई मित्रगण, 

बहाउल्लाह के जन्म की द्विशताब्दी के समारोहों ने, ’पाँच वर्षीय योजना‘ के कार्य को जो अद्भुत प्रोत्साहन दिया है, वह विश्व के सभी भागों में प्रत्यक्ष है। बाब के जन्म की दो सौवीं वर्षगाँठ तथा इस द्वितीय द्विशताब्दी के पूर्व क्या प्राप्त किया जाना चाहिये, स्वाभाविक रूप से हमारे विचार इस ओर जाते हैं, ताकि, “प्रथम द्विशताब्दी के समय हर एक बीज जो इतने प्रेम के साथ बोया गया” उसका “पोषण धैर्यपूर्वक फल प्राप्ति की ओर किया जा सके”। विश्व न्याय मन्दिर ने अनुरोध किया है कि हम इस विषय पर विचार-विमर्श में आपकी सहायता के लिये कुछ बिन्दु प्रेषित करें। इस पत्र को आप अपने समुदायों में, आपको जैसे उचित लगे वैसे, मित्रों के साथ साझा करने के लिये स्वतंत्र हैं।
 
विश्व न्याय मन्दिर की ओर से, 18 मई 2016 को आपको लिखे गये पत्र के द्वारा दोनों द्विशताब्दियों के लिये, बहाई विश्व द्वारा अपनाये जाने वाले तरीके की समझ का एक व्यापक ढांचा पहले ही प्रदान किया जा चुका है। इस पत्र में, विशेषकर, यह सूचित किया गया था कि गतिविधि की जगह स्थानीय स्तर पर होनी चाहिये। उस पत्र में यह भी वर्णित है कि दो वर्षगाँठों के बीच के आठ चक्रों का समय वह समय है, जब ’पाँच वर्षीय योजना‘ के लक्ष्यों को पूरा करने के लिये, प्रयत्नों के सर्वाधिक योगदान की आवश्यकता है। इसलिये, अपने क्लस्टरों में मित्रों का ध्यान इस पर, विशेष रूप से, केन्द्रित होना चाहिये। यह अच्छी तरह से चल रही सघन गतिविधियों का मौसम है, डेढ़ वर्ष से कम का समय बचा है। इस बहुमूल्य समय में, इस वर्ष ’युगल पावन दिवस‘ सम्मिलित हैं, जिन्हें केवल कुछ माह बाद ही मानाया जाना है। इन अवसरों पर, मित्रों को यह मूल्यवान अवसर प्राप्त होगा कि, जो गत वर्ष उन्होंने स्थानीय उत्सवों में लोगों को एक साथ लाने, जिससे ह्रदय उन्नत व चेतनाएं प्रकाशित होती हैं, से समृद्ध अनुभव प्राप्त किये, उन्हें आगे बढाएं।
 
बाब के जन्म की द्विशताब्दी की तैयारियाँ इस अभिज्ञान के साथ करनी चाहिये कि इस वर्षगाँठ से संबंधित उत्सवों के विशिष्ट संदर्भ हैं। वे बहाउल्लाह के जन्म की द्विशताब्दी के मात्र दो वर्ष उपरांत घटित होंगे, और बाब, निःसंदेह, बहाउल्लाह के अग्रदूत थे। प्रथम द्विशताब्दी के पूर्व और बाद में, मित्रों ने परिवार, मित्रों और सभी वर्ग के परिचितों को ’आशीर्वादित सौंदर्य‘ के जीवन तथा शिक्षाओं से सम्बन्धित सम्वादों में संलग्न रखा, और आने वाली द्विशताब्दी के संबंध में होने वाले सम्वादों ’प्रभुधर्म के युगल संस्थापकों‘ पर केन्द्रित, कई तौर-तरीकों में इन वार्तालापों का एक विस्तार होंगे। क्योंकि इस ’दिवस‘, बहाउल्लाह द्वारा प्रशंसित इस “अतुलनीय़ दिवस” की महानता, इस तथ्य से सुस्पष्ट है कि इसके आगमन की उद्घोषणा दो दिव्य ’अवतारों‘ द्वारा की गई थी, ’जिनके जन्म-दिवस‘ ”ईश्वर की दृष्टि में एक माने गये हैं”। ’उनके‘ स्वयं में तथा ’उनके प्रकटीकरण‘ द्वारा प्रचलित व्यवस्था पर लगाये गये विराम, बाब का पावन रूप, पीढ़ियों की प्रार्थनाओं व अनुनय-विनय का प्रत्युत्तर था, जो ’एक‘ की प्रतीक्षा कर रहे थे, जिसकी भवियष्यवाणी सभी ’पावन ग्रंथों’ में की गई थीं। ’उनके‘ आगमन से ईश्वर का शाश्वत धर्म असाधारण स्फूर्ति से नवीकृत तथा पुनरुद्धारित किया गया था। फिर भी, ’उन्होंने‘ ’अपने‘ लिए जिस उपाधि को चुना था, उसी में ’उन्होंने‘ यह संकेत दिया कि ’वे‘ एक महत्तर ’प्रकटीकरण‘ के द्वार थे, जिसको शोगी एफेंदी के शब्दों में, “उन्होंने ’स्वयं को‘ एक विनम्र अग्रदूत माना।” सम्पूर्ण विश्व में बहाईयों द्वारा प्रभुधर्म की प्रगति के लिये परिश्रम करने के प्रयत्न, बाब द्वारा बयान में दिये गये स्पष्ट सत्योपदेश की मन में याद दिलाता है: “उसका भला होता है जो बहाउल्लाह की ’व्यवस्था‘ पर अपनी दृष्टि स्थिर रखता है और अपने प्रभु को धन्यवाद देता है।”

जैसे-जैसे अगली द्विशताब्दी के लिये योजनाएँ आकार धारण करती जायेंगी, विश्व के क्षितिज पर अविलम्ब अनुक्रम में, दो ईश्वरीय अवतारों के प्रकटीकरण और मानवता के जीवन पर उनके प्रभाव के बारे में गहन चिन्तन करने से, निःसंदेह कलात्मक अभिव्यक्तियाें के कई उदाहरण उभरना प्रारंभ हो जायेंगे। आपको यह जान कर प्रसन्नता होगी कि विश्व न्याय मन्दिर पुनः एक फिल्म तथा इस अवसर के लिये समर्पित एक ’वेब साइट’, दोनों बनाने मन्शा रखते हैं। वे दो सौ वर्ष की वर्षगाँठ के उपलक्ष में एक विशेष पत्र तैयार करने की भी प्रत्याशा करते हैं। समय आने पर इसका विस्तृत वर्णन उपलब्ध हो जायेगा।
 
गत द्विशताब्दी की एक उल्लेखनीय विशेषता थी, समाज के सम्मानीय व प्रमुख सदस्यों द्वारा कई सम्मान और बधाई के संदेश, जो प्रायः उन्हें विचारपूर्ण भावनाएँ प्रदर्शित करने के लिये प्राप्त निमंत्रण के प्रत्युत्तर में थे। यद्यपि, इस अवसर का स्वरूप, इसके लिये स्वयं को प्रस्तुत नहीं करता कि इस प्रकार के सार्वजनिक वक्तव्य प्राप्त करने के प्रयास किये जायें। फिर भी, प्रभुधर्म की शिक्षाओं और मूलभूत तथ्यों से, साथ ही बहाई समुदायों द्वारा किये जा रहे प्रयासों से, ऐसे मित्रों को और अधिक परिचित होने में मदद करने के प्रयास, अवश्य ही, स्वाभाविक तरीके से जारी रहेंगे।
 
इस वर्ष के रिज़वान संदेश में, विश्व न्याय मन्दिर ने बाब और ’उनके‘ अनुयायियों के पराक्रम का उल्लेख किया है, आने वाले महीनों में जिनके जीवन के भावोत्तेजक विवरणों की, निश्चित ही, पुनः चर्चा और उनका पुनः उल्लेख किया जायेगा। इस द्विशताब्दी के समग्र तरीके के अनुरूप, इन उल्लेखनीय कथाओं को, जिनकी खूबी इतिहास की खोज से बहुत परे है, मन में याद करने के उद्देश्य पर विचार करना महत्वपूर्ण होगा। जो मित्र प्रभुधर्म की आज की आवश्यकताओं का प्रत्युत्तर देने में संलग्न हैं, वे उन्हें, डॉन-ब्रेकर्स के बलिदानों से प्रेरणा और सहस प्राप्त करने में समर्थ बनायेंगे। वे, अनुयायियों के समूहाें को यह महसूस करने में सहायता देंगे कि, इस युग में आवश्यक सेवा के कार्यों के प्रति स्वयं को समर्पित करके, वे अपने आध्यात्मिक पूर्वजों के उदात्त गुणों का अनुकरण कर रहे हैं।
 
“सृष्टि की एक अद्वितीय हस्ती” को यथोचित सम्मान देने के लिये, बहाई समुदाय ने, हाल-फिलहाल में, जिन ऊँचाइयों पर उड़ान भरी है, वे अभी भी स्मृति में जीवंत हैं। प्रथम का इतने अधिक निकट से अनुसरण करते हुए, तथा तब जो सीखा गया उस पर निर्माण करते हुए, इस द्वितीय द्विशताब्दी के समारोहों से उत्पन्न संभावनाएँ असीमित प्रतीत होती हैं। ईश्वर के सभी मित्रों के लिये यह विनती करते हुए कि, स्वर्गिक आशीष, उनके विचार-विमर्श के प्रत्येक स्तर पर और ’उसके‘ लिये उनके द्वारा किये गये प्रत्येक कार्य में, उनके साथ रहें, पावन समाधियों पर विश्व न्याय मन्दिर की प्रार्थनाओं के लिये आश्वस्त रहें।
 
प्रेमपूर्ण बहाई अभिनन्दन के साथ,
सचिवालय विभाग
प्रतिलिपि: अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय शिक्षण केन्द्र
सलाहकारों के मण्डल
सलाहकार

Friday, June 22, 2018

Mr. Payam Shoghi has started a company, he needs your help.



AMHARTA EDUCATION PRIVATE LIMITED
PUNE, INDIA


20 June 2018

Dear Friends

We all know about the power of education. Education is the greatest empowering force in the world. But this is true for not just any kind of education – certainly not the bookish learning that most schools offer their students! A comprehensive system of education that is directed at and serves to nurture the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, moral and spiritual potentials of children is the kind of education that we wish to promote.

I have been doing my bit, however small, to help improve the quality of education in schools over the past 25 years or so. I come from an engineering background but quickly shifted to the field of education. I helped my parents run a school in Patna, India, for over a decade, and soon it became the tool and means for me to gain firsthand insights, knowledge and experience in the field of education. My focus, during that period and beyond, was on innovations, on how to work with children more effectively, even if it meant to work with them differently. My team and I questioned many classroom conventions and practices, and discovered new and more effective ways of doing things. I went on to study education, along the way doing my Master of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Education, and Diploma in School Management.

I was later moved to share with others whatever I had learned over the years and thus got involved in teacher-training and began working with schools. This has been a very enriching journey for me as I got to learn a great deal from the teachers who attended the numerous teacher-training workshops that I facilitated over the years.

Somewhere along the path, I also got involved in corporate trainings, building on the common elements of human capability development, which is as much relevant to the corporate world as it is to our education system.

I have spent the past 25 years or so in the field of education in various capacities: as a humble student and learner, as a trainer of teachers and school leaders, as a consultant helping schools align their work and organizational culture with sound educational and moral principles, and finally as part of school managements, a position that I currently hold as Principal of RiverDale International School (http://www.rispune.com/ ).

A New Approach:

I have been moved, in recent times, to try and do something more! A majority of schools continue to advance a kind of education that promotes dependence, rote-learning, competition and a materialistic outlook towards life among children. Heavily dependent on content-based learning, the priority for most schools is to ensure that their students do well in the state and national Board examinations, at the detriment of helping them acquire the essential life-skills, attitudes and values that they inevitably require for future success in their lives.

This desire to do something more than what I was doing until now led me to explore different possibilities and after carefully considering all options, I decided to form a company.

And thus AmHarTa Education Private Limited was recently born!

Why a Company? 
I initially wanted to set up a NGO or Trust for creating a platform to work with schools on a large scale. But I soon realized that severe restrictions constrain the functioning of such agencies in India at the moment. The present Government in India, owing to security concerns, does not look favorably upon such not-for-profit agencies which raise substantial resources domestically and from abroad, but remain largely unaccountable in their functioning. The only other option that remained for scaling up my ability of working with an increasingly larger number of educational institutions was to form a company. Companies in India are well regulated and have greater freedom to function. Thus, AmHarTa is now the platform that I hope will enable us reach a larger number of schools with the programs and services that we intend to offer.

Programs and Services:

The programs and services that AmHarTa will offer and deliver to different kinds of educational institutions will, of course, evolve overtime. However, there is sufficient clarity on the basic elements of what we wish to do in our work with schools. These include:

1. Staff training:

This would be a major offering to schools. Apart from focusing on the essential capabilities that teachers need to be more effective in the realms of pedagogy, subject teaching, higher-order thinking, innovations and creativity, classroom management, discipline, assessment and such like, out training interventions will have two unique components:

a) Creating awareness among teachers between their professional work and the essence of their human reality. This is based on the common refrain that a ‘good teacher is first a good human being’! We have learned over the years that teachers begin to appreciate more the importance of their noble work with children, and become more motivated and more effective in their work when they (or for that matter any other group of professionals!) are helped to better understand concepts and principles related to human reality, and clarify for themselves related fundamental questions such as ‘Who am I as a human being?’ ‘What is my true reality?’ ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ ‘What is my inter-relationship with others in society’? And others. Relating the discourse on the role of teachers to the essentials of human reality is a unique capability that we currently possess, and which can be a major USP in our work with teachers.

b) Another unique component of our work with teachers that we have evolved over the years works at the level of attitudes. Most training programs merely focus on skills and information without taking into account the related attitudes that teachers require to be more successful and effective. A teacher with the best skills but with the wrong attitudes will probably be less effective compared to one with the right attitudes but bereft of skills. The teacher’s positive attitudes will help her find her way and acquire the skills and abilities that it takes to be successful. Attitudinal change and mindset conditioning take time and are difficult processes to unfold which is why most teacher-training programs choose to have nothing to do with them. But years of experience in this domain can make the difference between what we have to offer and everything else that is currently available in the market.

2. Accreditation:

The draft new National Education policy (India) highlights the formation of the School Accreditation council empowered to evaluate and accredit schools based on parameters matching international quality standards. Accreditation, which up to now was limited to higher education in India, will soon become mandatory for schools as well. Such accreditation process could lead to the grading of schools which can serve as a good indicator of their quality standards.

Working in the domain of school accreditation thus opens up vast opportunities beyond merely charting out the roadmap for ongoing improvement, but also providing the necessary handholding and follow-up support.

3. Programs of Moral and Value Education:

Many schools do not appreciate the importance of including a meaningful program of value and moral education in their curricula. Those that do, base their programs on a mundane and content based approach which remain largely ineffective.

Schools without a comprehensive and effective program of moral and value education do a great deal of disservice to their students by not helping nurture and develop their moral and spiritual potentialities.

We have acquired, over the years, a considerable amount of insights, knowledge and experience in this field, drawing upon a rich body of research that is now universally available, and on a careful marrying of inspiring content and effective modes of delivery.

4. Skilling Programs:

India has a high and growing percentage of unskilled graduates. These are young professionals who remain largely bereft of basic skills that they require at the workplace. Consequently, once hired they have to be re-trained all over again!

Structuring and running skilling programs among students of undergraduate programs in engineering and management institutions is currently a great need and which we intend to get involved in.

5. Infrastructure enrichment:

I have the pleasure of knowing a few wonderful people who have established schools which, over a short period of time, have become quite popular owing to the sincere and dedicated services of their promoters.

Most of these schools are, however, constrained by their lack of resources needed for acquiring permanent facilities and technical support to ensure ongoing improvement in their education.

I have been working with some of these schools over the years offering them trainings and other technical support. But what these schools need most is the support that will help them acquire their own permanent facilities in order to set them on the path of sustained and accelerated progress. Therefore, infrastructure enrichment is another program that we wish to run to help deserving schools acquire the facilities that will help them enhance their existing capacities, and thus impart the benefit of their educational programs to more students.

The Next Step:

Once the formalities of registering and setting up the company are completed, a lot of work needs to be done to get its programs underway. The following are the most urgent among these:

1. Setting up an office and hiring the necessary in-house staff.

2. Creating the company website and promotional materials like videos, presentations, handouts, brochures, etc.

3. Developing the programs to be offered, and structuring them into deliverable units. This will require input from related experts, and collaboration with other agencies and institutions.

4. Recruiting interested and capable individuals tasked with the responsibility of marketing and promoting the company’s programs on commission basis.

5. Recruiting interested and capable human resources who can deliver the company’s varied programs among schools and other educational institutions on commission basis. Once recruited, these individuals will need to be put through intense and ongoing programs of induction, orientation and training in order to be able to align themselves with the quality of work envisaged.

6. Organising a number of seminars for school leaders in different parts of India to familiarize them with the company’s programs after which follow-up and subsequent contacts is expected to yield the company opportunities of working with them.

Currently, three schools have been identified and lined up for helping them with their infrastructure needs. While two schools need to buy land, the third needs to build on its recently acquired land. A sum of Rs 85 Lakh (USD 125,000) is required to finance these schools.

Returns and Earnings:

Schools and other educational institutions will be required to pay for services rendered. The commercials for the company’s offerings have to still be worked out, but two models of payment are being envisaged at the moment:

1. Payment for stand-alone interventions which is settled by the institution concerned after the intervention.

2. Payment, suitably calculated on the basis of a certain amount per student based on the nature of offerings, which will be made by the institution concerned on monthly basis. Payments against school investments for infrastructure enrichment come under this category.

The intention is to reinvest any profit that accrues from such work back into the company after taking care of administrative and tax compliance related expenses.

How Can You Help?

As you can see from the description of work that needs to be done right away, we require a considerable amount of money to get the company started. Our immediate goal is to raise resources to the tune of Rs 2 Crore (about US$ 300,000). One fourth of this amount has already been raised or pledged. The company can receive foreign investments and so remittances from abroad are welcome. We invite you to consider investing in our company as a means to serve the cause of education in India. If we are successful in our work and able to grow in turnover and scope, you can look forward to receiving dividends on your investment.

You can also pass around the word and put us in touch with people who may be interested in associating with our line of work and investing in our company.

Please contact me on pshoghi@gmail.com in case you wish to partner us in our work which is going to be meritorious and rewarding. I will be happy to separately provide you with additional information and more details about our work if so required.

Sincerely,

Payam Shoghi
Pune (India)

Friday, March 2, 2018

बहाई नववर्ष और इतिहास

दुनिया मे लगभग 35 बार लोग अपनी-अपनी जगह विश्वासो, कारणों और तरीको से नया साल मनाते है। परन्तु उनमे से कुछ जो हम जानते है।
जनवरी मे मनाया जाने वाला ईसाई नववर्ष
चैत्र से शुरू होने वाला हिन्दू नववर्ष
मोहर्रम से प्रारम्भ होने वाला मुस्लिम नववर्ष प्रमुख है।
इसके अलावा सिर्फ नानक साही कैलेण्डर बुद्ध पूर्णिमा से मानकर नया साल मनाते है। किसी ऐतिहासिक व महान घटना को रेखांकित करने के लिए नया दिन, नई तारीख, नया साल और नया कैलेण्डर प्रारम्भ होता है। जैसे-ईसा का जन्म दिन, विक्रमादित्य का सिंहासन पर बैठना और हजरत मुहम्मद का मक्का से मदीना हजरत करना । इन्हीं घटनाओं को लेकर क्रमशः ग्रेगोरियन, विक्रम, और हिजरी कैलेण्डर प्रारम्भ हुए इनकी खगोलीय गणना चाँद और सुरज को आधार मानकर की जाती है । परन्तु यह निर्वियाद सत्य है । पृथ्वी सूर्य की परिक्रमा 365 दिन और लगभग 6 घण्टे मे पुरी करती है।
बहाई धर्म के अग्रदुत दिव्यात्मा बाब ने ईरान के पारम्परिक रूप से मनाए जा रहे नववर्ष (नवरूज) को ही नया साल घोषित किये और कहे कि यही नये कैलेण्डर के शुरूआत और मानव जाति के परिपक्वता का प्रारम्भिक बिन्दू है ।
बहाउल्लाह ने इस आदेश को प्रमाणित और स्थापित किया इस तरह इस वर्ष 21 मार्च 2018 में जब नवरूज मनाया जायेगा तो 175वां बहाई वर्ष प्रारम्भ हो जायेगा ।
बहाई धर्म मे कुल 9 त्यौहार और वार्षिकी होते है, जिसमे नवरूज मात्र एक ऐसा पर्व है। जो दिव्यात्मा बाब और बहाउल्लाह के जीवन तथा उद्घोषणा से सम्बन्धित नही है इस दिन सारी दुनिया के बहाई जो ईसाई, मुस्लिम, बौद्ध, हिन्दू, सिक्ख, यहुदी और पारसी सहित विभिन्न पृष्ठ भूमि से आते है , सब संयुक्त रूप से सामान आस्था और विश्वास को अपनाते हुए "उन्नीस दिवसीय उपवास" की समाप्ति के बाद नवरूज मनाते है।
लगभग 5,000 साल पहले शहंशाह जमशेद ने मौसम के महत्व को समझ कर कङकङाती ठंड के बाद जब बसंत का आगमन होता है। तो फसलो, फूलो और पशुधन मे बढ़ोत्तरी के कारण नवरूज को एक उत्सव के रूप में मनाया जाना प्रारम्भ किया ।इसीलिए इसे जमशेदी नवरूज भी कहते है ।
ईसा से लगभग 1725 वर्ष पूर्व ईश्वरीय अवतार जोरास्त्र जो स्वयं एक खगोल शास्त्री थे, उन्होंने नवरूज को बसंत समाप्त से सम्बंधित किया ।
जब सुर्य भूमध्य रेखा को पार कर जिस क्षण मेष राशि मे प्रवेश करता है वही से साल का नया दिन प्रारम्भ होता है ।
बहाई धर्म के संस्थापक बहाउल्लाह के ज्येष्ठ पुत्र अब्दुल बहा ने बसंत सम्पात को ईश्वरीय अवतारो का प्रतीक बताया।
यह दुनिया का एकमात्र ऐसा धर्म निरपेक्ष नया साल है । जिसे सभी धर्मों के लोग मानते है ईरान में तो पारसी, बहाई, मुस्लिम, यहुदी, ईसाई कोई भी हो इसे वह धूमधाम से समारोह पूर्वक मनाता ही है इसके आलावा सूफी, मुस्लिम, ईसमाईली, बलूच और काश्मीरी हिन्दू भी नवरूज मनाते है ।
संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ की जनरल एसेम्बली ने 2010 में नवरूज को अंतर्राष्ट्रिय दिवस के रूप में मान्यता देते हुए इस ईरानी मुल के बसंत त्यौहार को लगभग 3,000 साल से अधिक समय से मनाया जाता हुआ बताया है । और यूनेस्को ने अक्टूबर 2009 को नवरूज मानवता के लिए संरक्षित सांस्कृतिक धरोहर की सूची मे सामिल किया है।
21 मार्च को दिन और रात लगभग बराबर होते है , विज्ञान खगोल शास्त्र के अनुसार भी सुर्य के भूमध्य रेखा को पार कर मेष राशि में प्रवेश को ही समय तारीख और दिन की गणना हेतू सर्वाधिक उपयुक्त माना जाता है ।
*ईश्वर ने चाहा तो* आने वाले समय में नवरूज ही सारी दुनिया का एकमात्र अधिकारिक नववर्ष होगा इसी आशा ,विश्वास और भावना के साथ समर्पित ।

इकबाल चन्द, रामपुर, उत्तर प्रदेश

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baha’u’llah as the Hindu Kalki Avatar

Baha’is worldwide proclaim Baha’u’llah as the “Promised One” of all religions.

This refers to the truth-claim that Baha’u’llah fulfills the messianic expectations of the world’s religions. It’s quite a claim, actually. It’s even more interesting when comparing Baha’u’llah’s claims to the actual prophecies themselves.

In this series, Christian and Islamic prophecies have been the primary focus. But to illustrate the universality of Baha’u’llah’s claims, let’s take a look at some other prophetic traditions. Take Hindu prophecies, for instance. This topic is well worth exploring, considering the fact that the country with the largest population of Baha’is today happens to be India, the world’s largest democracy, where the majority of the religious population are Hindus.

How did I end up studying Hindu prophecies in the first place? Around 1980, I joined the American Academy of Religion (AAR), which is the largest learned society of scholars in the academic study of religion in America. (I was invited to join AAR by Prof. Paul Achtemeier (d. 2013), former President of the Society of Biblical Literature, which was affiliated with the AAR.) I paid my dues. But I was not a professor. Instead, I was self-taught—an “autodidact.”

The first AAR paper that I ever presented was on Hindu prophecy is available online.

In popular Hindu religion, the future Messiah will be known as Kalki (the “Destroyer”). That name alone says a great deal about the nature of these prophecies. Basically, Kalki fights a big war against his enemies, the first of whom are Buddhists! The idea that Buddhists are evil gives pause for thought.

The scenario of a cosmic battle between good and evil is a common theme that pervades apocalyptic texts throughout the world’s religions. Some of these texts are highly imaginative, as well as vivid in their scenarios of the future.

Yet these texts, generally speaking, lack imagination in one respect: they cannot conceive of the triumph of good over evil by means that are good rather than evil, especially if one considers war is basically evil—even if a war is a “necessary evil,” i.e. a “just war” for defensive purposes.

But Kalki does not defend. Instead, he conquers. In other words, Kalki is seen as a great military leader. However, he is not a great spiritual leader.

So how do we get from Kalki to Baha’u’llah in terms of fulfillment of Hindu prophecy? Here’s an even more fundamental question: Why would anyone want to see this cosmic battle take place anyway?

Let’s look at a couple of representative texts. Among the many Hindu scriptures, there is a Hindu counterpart to the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible which is filled with prophecies regarding the time of the end, and the return of Jesus Christ. This Hindu work is called the Kalki Purana.

At the time that I wrote my paper, the Kalki Purana had not been translated. But since then, the Kalki Purana has been translated. One translation is available on the Internet: Sri Kalki Purana, by Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva, translated by Bhumipati Das and edited by Purnaprajna Das, with Sanskrit transliterations and verse translations (Mathura: Jai Nitai Press, 2006).

We all know that war is not spiritual—but Kalki fights a big war. So is Kalki spiritual?

Chapter 14 of the Kalki Purana is entitled, “ Lord Kalki Conquers the Buddhists Who Opposed Him” (pp. 148–160). One can understand the desire to defeat one’s opponents. One way is by force. Another way is by persuasion, or at least by some kind of agreement through dialogue.

Baha’u’llah did not fight a war. He was a prisoner and exile, not a military leader. As a prisoner in Akka, and before when he was in Edirne (Adrianople), Baha’u’llah proclaimed his mission to the kings and religious leaders of the world, and undertook what might be regarded as the first international peace mission of modern history. So, in order for Baha’u’llah to be the messianic fulfillment of the Kalki prophecies, we need to radically reinterpret the prophecies themselves so as to spiritualize them.

A few similar chapter titles from the Kalki Purana serve to reinforce this point: Chapter 15: “Lord Kalki Is Attacked by the Mleccha [foreign] Women: Instructions by the Weapons Personified;” Chapter 20: “Lord Kalki Travels to Bhallatanagara Sasidhvaja: a Great Battle Takes Place.”

The Kalki Purana has 35 chapters. Two of the closing chapters are entitled: Chapter 32: “Lord Kalki Enjoys Pastimes With His Consort”; Chapter 33: “The Demigods Arrive at Shambala: The Disappearance of Lord Kalki.”
Let’s take a look at chapter 19:

“The Appearance of Satya Yuga: Description of the Different Manus.” If there were to be any positive spiritual teachings in the Kalki Purana, one would expect to find them in this chapter.

Hinduism has a doctrine of cycles of time, or various “ages.” Kali Yuga is the period of greatest evil. Satya Yuga is the Golden Age, which analogously corresponds to the Millennium in Christian prophecy, except that the former lasts 4,000 (“celestial”) years, while Kali Yuga is 1,000 years (or 1,200 years, if the “transitional years” of 100 years, before and after, are included), according to Sri Yukteswar (The Holy Science, 1894, p. xv). (“Celestial” years are vast spans of time.) But these time periods vary, depending on the tradition. (Some say Kali Yuga lasts 432,000 years!) Kalki appears at the end of Kali Yuga. Chapter 19 closes with these two verses:

I am the personified Satya Yuga. During my lifetime, pure religious principles are observed and protected. I have received the name Satya Yuga because the people [of] this age are pious and truthful. – Text 17.

Lord Kalki was surrounded by His associates, and after hearing these words of Satya Yuga, He felt delighted. The Lord, in consideration of the arrival of Satya Yuga, ordered His devotees as follows, with a desire to root out Kali [a demon Kali (not to be confused with the goddess Kālī).]: “Pick up your weapons and prepare yourselves to march.”– Text 18–20.

In Chapter 20, “Lord Kalki Goes Out to Conquer Kali and His Allies,” Kalki announces:

You know very well that at the request of Grandfather Brahma, I have assumed this form of Kalki avatara [avatar] … I am just about to set out on a tour to conquer all the kings of the world.– Texts 24–25.
So there you have it: Kalki is a conqueror. Baha’u’llah is a peacemaker, who announced:

… the establishment of the Lesser Peace, details of which have formerly been revealed from Our Most Exalted Pen. Great is the blessedness of him who upholdeth it and observeth whatsoever hath been ordained by God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 23.

In the next essay, we will further explore how Baha’u’llah, the peacemaker, can be considered the fulfillment of the Hindu prophecies regarding Lord Kalki, the conqueror.


Written by :
Christopher Buck (PhD, JD) is an attorney and an independent scholar who has written several books, including God & Apple Pie (2015), with an introduction by J. Gordon Melton (Distinguished Professor of American Religious History, Baylor University), Religious Myths and Visions of America (2009, “an original contribution to American studies,” Journal of American History, June 2011), Alain Locke: Faith and Philosophy (2005), Paradise and Paradigm (1999), Symbol and Secret (1995/2004), Religious Celebrations (co-author, 2011), and also contributed chapters in such books as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey West: The Course of Human Solidarity (2013), American Writers (2010 & 2004), The Islamic World (2008), and The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’an (2006). See us.academia.edu/ChristopherBuck and bahai-library.com/Buck.

Originally published at : http://bahaiteachings.org